Paper and cardboard are increasingly being used as building materials. Japanese architect Shigeru Ban is a pioneer in this field and continually showcases new projects utilizing these materials. While Citroën's Oli electric vehicle introduced the concept of a car made of cardboard, Shigeru Ban has shown that this idea has far greater potential with his paper-based buildings and structures.
His recent projects include setting up a system of relatively thin cardboard tubes in 14 evacuation centers in various locations, allowing curtains to divide large rooms into private sections for war refugees. This system was initially used in Japan in 2011 to provide privacy for those displaced by natural disasters. Cardboard is not only suitable for such practical purposes but also for large structures exposed to wind and weather.
One of the most recent major structures he designed is a restaurant in Hyogo Prefecture, built in the style of classic Japanese thatched farmhouses. To reduce costs, hollow cardboard tubes were used for the load-bearing columns and cross-connections. However, due to Japanese building regulations, they had to mix wood into the cardboard compound for some elements, such as the roof. Despite these challenges, the 293-square-meter building has been standing since 2021.
Shigeru Ban's pioneering work in utilizing paper and cardboard as building materials dates back to his early career, when he had limited resources. His commitment to sustainable design has received official recognition, and he has designed structures with minimal negative environmental impact. Sustainable design, which lessens the detrimental effects of construction on the environment and promotes the health of building occupants, is essential in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and addressing the pressing global issue of climate change. Taking immediate action is crucial in addressing this challenge that affects not only the global society but everyone.
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